The Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear arguments on December 3 on whether employers must treatment pregnancy-related disabilities on par with non-pregnancy related disabilities under federal law. While the issue may seem significant only to legal scholars , it has far-reaching practical effects. The plaintiff, Peggy Young, needed a break from heavy lifting at her UPS job due to her pregnancy, according to her doctor. In response, UPS placed Young on unpaid leave, rather than give her light duty, which is an accommodation it gave to workers who suffered on-the-job injuries. The issue now before the Supreme Court is whether UPS violated the law by treating Young's need for accommodation differently than it would have had she needed the accommodation due to an on-the-job injury. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires employers to treat employee with work limitations due to pregnancy the same as similarly-abled employees with limitations due to other reasons.
Many employers, including UPS, have revised their internal policies to require equal treatment of pregnancy-related requests for accommodations. But the issue is one that is likely to recur for many pregnant women and the case should result in a uniform rule. The Supreme Court should decide the case by June.